I don’t usually respond to comments on this blog. But today, thanks to my post about OneSTDV and his response, I’ve had relatively many comments, and as the disagreements between myself and these visitors are numerous, I felt I owed them some answers. I determined that it might be better to answer all their questions in the form of one post, as opposed to using the comment system, largely because I haven’t been able to get the “reply” feature working correctly. Hopefully, this form will prove easier to follow.
All the quotes that follow are excerpted from comments on this post, and are in
block quote form.
My responses follow in regular form. If any attributions are unclear, just let me know, and I’ll fix it.
Commenter Lucille wrote:
“First of all, I am in significant agreement with the notion that ‘we can’t escape biology’. In many cases, the attempt to try is harmful. A lot of feminist and anti-racist thought is grounded on the ‘disparate impact’ doctrine: that inequality of outcomes is mostly, if not entirely, the result of inequality of opportunity. But this notion, which is taken as axiomatic by so many sectors of society, is, in my opinion, rather dubious and unsupported. For example, I have come across claims that the social assumption that women are the primary caretakers of children is ‘oppressive.’ But to me, it’s plain to see that this notion directly stems from biology, rather than being arbitrary. “
Indeed, this is quite true. Everything I have seen in life indicates that women are in general are primary caretakers. However, the fact that some women–the women who call themselves “feminists”–have decided that they think this is oppressive suggests that they are not inclined to it, and therefore are not intended to be primary caretakers.
Nature, God, whatever you want to call it, does not do anything in a uniform manner. Therefore, there are some women –a minority, certainly–who do not want to be primary caretakers. How should society deal with this? Some societies deal with this by saying “get over it, whiners! The job of the woman is giving care, and if she is not doing that, she is useless!” I submit that a better way is to say to those women “that is alright, you do not have to be a caretaker; if you like you may do other things–perhaps even things previously thought ‘men’s work'”.
Now, I’m sure there are some people “on my side” as it were, who have taken it into their heads that they must coerce women into traditionally “male duties” and men into traditionally “female duties”–in other words, they do not recognize that, in general, most men and women are pretty much happy in their traditional roles. For this sort of thing, I really do apologize. That is not, in my view, what rebelling against gender roles is about. I’m just saying that some people are not happy with them, and I like to think those people can find a purpose elsewhere, as opposed to just being shamed or looked down upon, as has been the method elsewhere.
Anonymous commenter at 6:52 am wrote:
“Natural selection has shaped not only the universals of human nature like language, but also the differences that inevitably arose between human populations from living in vastly different environments.
Just a few examples: did you know that Tibetans living on the “Roof of the World” breathe faster than you and me? Did you know that most of the people of Europe speak Indo-European language, because the Indo-Europeans were the first population which evolved a gene for lactose tolerance and thus outcompeted the other ones? Did you know that Jews have a higher average IQ than any other known human population, which is why the have won a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes? (they also have the largest incidence of Tay-Sachs and other brain diseases associated with BRAIN function, which could only have arisen if they had some sort of good side effect, like raising their intelligence). Did you know that Blacks are more predisposed to sickle-cell disease than Whites? Blacks who posess 2 alleles of the same type get sickle-cell disease, but having only one reduces the incidence of malaria? Given that Africa is a place where malaria is frequent, the evolutionary advantage of such a gene outweighs its drawbacks. However, European Whites had no need for it because there is low malaria risk in Europe…
I dream of a world in which all people have the same chance of success, which is predicted by intelligence (which is at least 50% genetic). You dream of a world in which anyone who discusses those horrible differences (which we know not how to fix ATM) is reviled as a racist, close-minded person.
I was not aware of this, thank you for informing me. However, perhaps I have not made myself quite clear–I am not sure how this, important though they are, relate to my original point.
When I say “try to escape biology”, I don’t mean all Africans ought to go live in Europe, or that all Europeans ought to go try to cope with malaria by living in Africa. What I mean is something a little different. That, in addition to fulfilling all the roles we are biologically disposed to, people ought to strive for something more… meaningful, lasting… “transcendent” is maybe the best word. (I know at least one anonymous comment on OneSTDV’s blog noted this, and suggested this desire is only an irrational young man’s fleeting idea. Perhaps so. All the more reason, though, for me to make the most of it while it lasts, so you’ll have to bear with me.)
Also, let me clarify: I do not “dream of a world in which anyone who discusses those horrible differences (which we know not how to fix ATM) is reviled as a racist, close-minded person” I didn’t mean to give that impression. By all means discuss them! That’s the only way to find out about the truth of the matter! I happen to think many of the conclusions you and the other HBD’rs have reached are wrong, but don’t stop discussing on that account. I mean, that’s what the First Amendment is there for.
As for the reading list you kindly provided me with, I thank you. I have not read most of the pieces you recommend, but I have read Unqualified Reservations, a blog which I can scarcely even describe my reaction to concisely. Perhaps I will discuss it another time.
Greg Williams comments:
“I find it many times to be the opposite of what this commenter says. [He’s alluding to PM Prescott saying OneSTDV is “close-minded”–MM] Liberals, very often, are the close-minded ones.
Who are the ones who disrupt conservative public speakers at college campuses and elsewhere? Rarely does one see a liberal speaker bombarded with 60s era war chants with megaphones (think, we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it).
When I talk to liberals, even amongst friends, I like to hear their take on topics, and am often shouted at because of my views. I will disagree, but I’m not so close-minded as to call them names and outright disregard them as human beings because they offer an opinion differing from mine.”
Well… I do recall some incidents in which armed Tea Party members appeared at some meetings regarding the health care bill years ago, and the incident in which Congressman Joe Wilson accused President Obama of lying springs to mind.
But let’s not bicker and argue over it; I agree that many times liberals are closed-minded on some subjects. Now, who is more closed-minded is a very difficult question to settle. Most people, no matter their political views, will refuse to listen to the opposite. And frankly, I can understand it; most people probably have other things they’d rather do with their time. I am an odd person.
Commenter Ken S quotes me saying: “It is perfectly true that we cannot escape biology–but it is my contention that this doesn’t mean we ought not to try.” and then continues:
“Yes, for the longest time it was impossible to escape Earth’s gravity, but it took great minds to send people to the Moon. Escaping biology may require the help of *actual biologists* just like escaping gravity required actual physicists. Right now the danger is in allowing fuzzy-thinking, political cliches and anti-science race activists to influence social and economic policy.
“For in trying, we become more than just biological entities–we achieve something more meaningful. It is this desire, I think, which underlies all Art and Literature.” [Quoting me–MM]
While I like might like what you have expressed in the context of the arts, this is not the proper context that HBD lies in. HBD itself is a scientific idea and the politics expressed at blogs like OneSTDV are responses to scientific data that question whether or not current social policies are doing more harm than good. Even if he is wrong about the politics it would not make him wrong about the scientific findings that he uses to support his position.
True. I am no scientist, and thus am in no position to debate him on that. My knowledge of the world, my experiences, and my education all combine to give me a very powerful sense that what he says is false. But this feeling is not, I freely admit, the stuff of scientific debate. So on those terms, I am the wrong man to argue with him.
Perhaps my error was in addressing my post mainly to his general worldview, and not specific points. I admit that when I wrote that post, I was thinking more of the conclusions and societal implications he has derived from his research than I was of the actual research itself. You make a valid point, and though I remain quite unconvinced of the truth of this theory, I admit that at present I lack the ability to debate the scientific aspects of it.
“The Natural Enquirer” asks:
“What would constitute an escape from biology?”
Well, to me, all art, music, literature and poetry is. To my mind, there is very little evolutionary use to such things–though I know the question has been debated endlessly. I do not think that people derive much in the way of an evolutionary edge by enjoying such things, yet nonetheless the world would be poorer without them. Yes, I am the very model of a hedonistic liberal. What can I say?
But “Natural Enquirer” is quite right in asking if the brain itself, being a biological entity, is even capable of performing such an escape. A reasonable question, but very difficult to answer. Perhaps I am best served by responding with a question of my own: if biology is truly inescapable, then what is the point of writing anything on blogs, or complaining about liberals or conservatives, or of any of what has gone on here?
Surely, if this really is the case, everyone is doing what they are biologically predestined to do anyway, and therefore there’s really not much point in thinking about it. Or do I misunderstand?
I do appreciate all of you taking the time to comment here.